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Planning Your Dream Move Abroad? Don’t Get Fooled by These 6 Sneaky Rental Scams!

Jun 19, 2023 by Fredrik Häggrot

The thrill of starting afresh in a new country is immense, and yet, the task of finding an apartment abroad and that perfect home-sweet-home can be one monumental rollercoaster ride. When you move abroad and are unlucky or careless, rent can gobble up a lion's share of your budget, leaving you wide-eyed, wondering where to live, how much it'll cost, and whom on earth you can trust!

There are sneaky scamsters lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce on your innocence and lack of knowledge. Their sole mission? To lighten your wallet!

Fear not, we've got your back! We've rounded up six of the most common scams you need to watch out for while apartment hunting in a foreign land. Because we know these schemes, we have created our accommodation sites on Workwide, where you can discover safe, vetted landlords and apartments through our collaborations with some of the industry's biggest names.

1 The "Pay First, Contract Later" Landlord

In a perfect world, all landlords would be honest, pleasant, and easy to deal with. But alas, we live in the real world! There are sly foxes out there who will claim to have an apartment, only for you to discover they don't. Always remember, don't part with your rent or deposit until you've taken a thorough tour of the property and have keys in hand.

If the landlord is eager to fill their pockets before signing a contract, it's your cue to raise an eyebrow. Perhaps they're rushing the deal, whispering that others are lined up for the same property, but they like you more - but only if you pay upfront.

2 The "My-Kindergartner-Did-The-Paperwork" Lease

Crafty scammers can be as creative and persuasive as a used car salesman on commission. They might even hand you a copy of the lease to win your trust.

Be vigilant when scanning these documents. Poor spelling and grammar are dead giveaways. Also, watch for missing or fictitious rental addresses and personal information. If the contract looks like it's been whipped up during a lunch break, it probably has.

3 The Invisible Landlord

Now imagine you're renting out your apartment. You'd definitely want to meet your potential tenant, right? It's a two-way street.

The landlord may not have the chance to meet you face-to-face if they're in a different country, but they should at least be keen on a video call. This gives them a sense of who you are and provides you a virtual tour of the apartment.

If the landlord is full of excuses for why they can't show the apartment or seems disinterested in video chatting, that's your cue to start worrying.

Invisible landlord

4 The "Too-Good-To-Be-True" Price Tag

You know the saying, "If it sounds too good to be true - it probably is?" Well, this ancient wisdom rings loud and true, especially in our context. If the apartment you're eyeing seems like a steal, it could be a sign of foul play.

Instead of doing a happy dance and impulsively saying yes to the suspiciously low price, pause and ponder. Compare prices of similar apartments in the same area to get a sense of what you should be paying.

Remember, your new home away from home is just around the corner. Stay vigilant, avoid these six scams, and you'll soon be lounging in your new living room. For a safer way to find your dream place, look no further than Workwide. We've got a range of vetted and secure overseas homes ready for you.

5 The "No-Questions-Asked" Landlord

A commendable landlord cherishes their property and wouldn't dare rent it out to someone irresponsible, financially unstable, or unreliable. Therefore, brace yourself to present certain documents that vouch for your rental credibility, such as:

  • Personal ID
  • Employment or study proof
  • Proof of income

If the landlord doesn't screen you, alarm bells should start ringing – you might be dealing with a fraudster. But remember, too much enthusiasm on their part to get their hands on your documents could also be a masked attempt to steal your identity. If in doubt, don't hesitate to question what they need your documents for and why. If their response is evasive, annoyed, or simply doesn't add up, it's time to gracefully bow out.

6 The "Keep-The-Deposit" Landlord

A deposit is an amount paid by the tenant to the landlord at the start of the tenancy, returned at the end provided the tenant leaves the property in a satisfactory state. As rules and laws around deposits can vary wildly across countries, make sure it's clearly outlined in the contract when you'll get your deposit back. Do a walkthrough of the property with your landlord and photograph any existing damages. This way, you'll know what was there when you moved in and what damages, if any, occurred during your stay.

Use these tips to stay secure

Steer clear of these cunning scams and keep your apartment hunting safe and secure. But there's no need to worry too much. Of course, there may be dodgy landlords out there but if you use established and respected platforms, companies or brands to find your apartment abroad, you will in most cases find reliable partners.

Psst... aside from housing scams, there are other types of fraud to watch out for when you're moving abroad. Read more about them here.